You may not have noticed, but juicing has become kind of a “thing” over the past few years on the New York (and Los Angeles) health scene. We were even seeing juice bars on our trip to Paris (Not that we went into any; anything other than croissants and steak frites in France is what we call a culinary crime). The point is, there was a guy doing liquid — he started a small juice bar back in 1999 — before it became all the rage. Eric Helms, founder of New York phenomenon Juice Generation, has been at it for over a decade, managing to stay a relevant favorite in a now fiercely competitive market. Though many of our juice orders are of the smoothie persuasion (yes, if there’s any sort of milk or juice in it, it’s technically a smoothie, we’ve checked), we are also obsessed with the yummy bevy of juices Helms has come up with. We chatted it up with the original king of all things health, and tried to avoid telling him about our own personal juice cleansing fiasco…
The New Potato: Describe your ideal food day…
Eric Helms: "Breakfast would be fresh fruit and a simple green juice next to the ocean in Hawaii. Lunch would in Mykonos, Greece at Kiki’s — the most beautiful and simple seaside restaurant in the world. I’d have the artichoke and lentil salad and their famous barbecue chicken. Dinner would be with my friend Guiselda Tamez in Monterrey, Mexico. She makes homemade tamales that are the most fantastic thing you’ve ever tasted."
TNP: What’s your drink?
"Our Hail to Kale: a simple mix of kale, watermelon, apple and lemon. If I’m out with friends and want something stronger, I’ll have a gin and tonic."
TNP: What would your last meal be?
"Thanksgiving dinner prepared by my grandmother."
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TNP: How do you start your day on a good note?
"I’ll sit out on the terrace of my apartment, which has a great view of the Hudson River. I also spend a few minutes feeding my fish and making sure they’re okay before jumping on emails and starting the workday."
TNP: What are some of your healthy routines?
"I make sure to exercise every day. On my best days, I’ll swim laps before bed. We’re expanding and I’m writing my first book with Simon & Schuster, so I work seven days a week; my most important routine is taking a weekend away from the city each month."
TNP: Your favorite Juice Generation concoction…
"Supa Dupa Greens. It’s our best-seller! Spinach, kale, parsley, romaine, cucumber, celery, lemon and apple. When I’m looking for an extra kick, I’ll add ginger or turmeric."
TNP: What catches your eye on every menu?
"Local. We source local and organic produce for our stores, so I’m most interested in what local ingredients other restaurants take the time to serve. It matters to me, but it’s also often a chance to try something new."
"I go to Los Cabos at least twice every year. My trip to South Africa a few years ago was by far my favorite — I’ve never seen such beauty. The food in Cape Town was some of the best I’ve ever had. My guide did her research and scheduled some time to take me on a tour of local juice bars — I loved it!"
TNP: What won’t you travel without?
"Flip flops and a bathing suit."
TNP: What ingredient do you consider overrated?
"Dairy. Look no further than our menu, which is really more a reflection of my tastes than a reaction to trends."
TNP: What ingredient are you convinced makes everything better?
"Dates. They’re a delicious natural sweetener. Give them a blend; you’ll never look back."
TNP: Your afternoon snack…
"If I’m in the stores, an Acai Bowl with almond butter. If I’m working in our kitchen, I’ll ask the chef to make a raw entrée like our collard-wrapped enchiladas."
TNP: What’s always in your fridge?
"Bottles of our freshly cracked coconut water, Corona Light and limes."
TNP: Favorite night of the week and why?
"I love Sunday nights. I usually have dinner out with my friend Emily. I come home and make my to do lists, send reminders to my team about upcoming projects and finish the night with a book or reality TV."
TNP: If you could predict the next trend in the health world, what would it be?
"We’re debuting a new superfruit loaded with antioxidants in the fall. I’ve been working closely with the farmer, with whom we have an exclusive agreement, and can’t wait to let the fruit out of the bag in the coming months!"
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TNP: What are your favorite New York restaurants?
"You can’t go wrong with the halibut and sunflower salad from The Little Owl. La Esquina is one of my favorite places to take visitors. Is there anything more New York City than walking down the stairs to a secret venue with the best tacos north of Guadalajara?"
TNP: If you could have a dinner party with five people, living or dead, who would be there?
"Bill Clinton, Madonna, Pedro Almodóvar, Jack Kerouac, and Frida Kahlo."